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Reel love

Movies

Ah, love! The celebration of St. Valentine's Day lends love a special focus each February. But for believers, love can be a celebration every day-and hardly limited to romance. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul compels us to examine love's many faces. Filmmakers as well have dug deep to provide some luminous portraits of love.

Here are a few of the best:

Love is patient, love is kind.

Driving Miss Daisy: Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, Dan Aykroyd, 1989

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Even if you saw this Academy Award winner (best picture, best actress) in 1989, like a good friend it will grow closer with each visit. Chronicling a quarter-decade in the life of a cantankerous and aging Southern lady, this lovingly detailed story shows clearly how religion, race, and class keep us apart. The steadfast loving-kindness of a black chauffeur is sweet to behold, and we thank God when Miss Daisy finally sees it.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Babette's Feast: Danish, with subtitles, 1987

Set in a rigidly religious and comfortless Danish village in the late 1800s, this warmly textured movie weaves the tale of two sisters who acquire as a servant a refugee from the 1871 Paris revolt. Through the years she is an unassuming picture of the humility and sacrifice that the people she serves only discuss. At the end this is revealed in a rich and wonderful way.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Graham Faulkner, Alec Guinness, 1973

Every scene is a beautiful picture in this stirring movie directed by Franco Zeffirelli. The story of Francis of Assisi-of his selflessness and boundless love for Christ as well as for "the least of these"-is used to focus attention on the need for reformation in the church and in our individual hearts.

It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Cry, the Beloved Country: James Earl Jones, Richard Harris, 1996

A black minister from a small South African village goes looking for family members astray in the big city. But it's too late, for even as he seeks, his son has killed a young white man during a bungled robbery attempt. Ironically, the victim is from the same small village, though apartheid had kept their paths from crossing before. That his murdered son was an active champion of black Africans only adds to the confusion and despair of the victim's father. But in the end, through his son's legacy of unprejudiced love, the father finds peace, healing, and love for his black brothers.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

The Spitfire Grill: Alison Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, 1996

Tender and moving, this tale of a spiritually dead small New England town portrays the damage done when hearts have grown hard. A newcomer, struggling to overcome a painful past, finds not only some love and healing, but also mistrust and harsh judgment. In the end, through her own sacrificial love, the town is redeemed and restored. (Some profanity.)

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Corrina, Corrina: Ray Liotta, Whoopi Goldberg, 1994

A little girl left motherless stops speaking. Her young father-lonely, stoic, atheistic-has little to offer her. Corrina, hired as a maid to run their lonely home, smuggles in a dash of humor and hope. Molly speaks again. Her father, Manny, loves again, and for the first time begins to believe. That Corrina is African-American and Manny's heritage is Jewish adds poignancy to a story set in a flawlessly '50s culture. Without a single profanity, sex scene, or bit of violence, this movie will capture your heart and emotions.

These movies run the gamut of settings, historical periods, and emotional tone. Yet they share a common theme. Through injustice, hypocrisy, evil-even death-love is triumphant and transcendent. As Christians, we know this theme well:

Love never fails.

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